Made in Finland: Cloud enables secure solutions to contract management
Our guest blogger today is Riitta Raesmaa, partner and co-founder of Sopima, a Finnish SME and part of the Microsoft BizSpark programme!
Update (ed.): Sopima has been named one of Innovate!100 Top 100 best start-ups in the fields of technology, media and telecommunications. Congratulations!
Sopima’s story started in January 2009 as a result of the daily struggles me and my business partners were having with contract creation and negotiations, and also to simply just search for the relevant information. I noticed that our existing ERP and CRM systems did not help much as there was a gap in the sales process right after the deal is agreed and before the contract documentation and more detailed negotiations begin.
This gave us the idea to create Sopima. At the moment we have a team of 15 and are simultaneously with the service building an ecosystem of partners around it. My role is to help build customer service, create an effective product management set-up and also to co-ordinate our communications.
So what exactly do we do? We have identified three major challenges we're now solving; poor efficiency in handling contracts, poor management of existing contracts, and poor co-operation and communication between business and legal. We are looking to revolutionize the way organizations control, create, negotiate and utilize its contracts. Our promise is to make contract management far more efficient and streamlined for any organization - also small and medium-sized businesses - thus helping them to grow and gain competitive advantage via good contracting.
What does it mean in practice? We take a different approach to the entire contract management process: we’re not an enterprise application that requires an IT project and contract professionals to make it happen. Our service consists of a smart and secure online contract bank, contracting best practices, and from autumn 2010 also online negotiation tools.
The value is brought to the customer by shortening the time to negotiate deals, saving time in daily tasks, and enabling transparency with extensive search and reporting on all contract assets. Sopima also takes risk management to a new level; no more expensive lessons in neglected or forgotten commitments!
Sopima has been an active BizSpark member for a year, and the most appreciated benefits are the access to online training and support programs for our technology issues, and local business and technology support provided by the Finnish BizSpark & Technology teams. We’ll gladly recommend Microsoft BizSpark to any start up building either online or onsite software solutions! We also use Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure, which we selected because it had the most potential for scaling and it enables us to build a compliant service for a Microsoft Office environment which is familiar to our customers. What we have reached with the Azure choice are clear cost savings, already during the 1st year, and we are sure that we can offer significantly better service levels to our customers - we believe that the future is secured! (All that compared to the alternative to build something on a local/global data center and be responsible for all infrastructure etc!) Another important issue to solve was data security, which Microsoft has heavily invested in. We’d never reach the same high level by our own means.
As for advice I’d give to other start-ups, additionally I would say that if a start-up company aims to reach global markets, firstly, it is smart to build the solutions on the cloud – for the unlimited scalability and because a genuine Platform-as-a-Service frees time for the actual Software-as-a-Service development. Secondly, the support you get via Microsoft BizSpark and later on via the Partner Program is world-class. I’ve been a business partner for another global provider earlier for many years, but I have to say that Microsoft beats it clearly! Passionate people make things happen, the Sopima pulse is high, and it is very nice and also beneficial to work with people with the same rhythm and positive attitude!
Click here to read: Sopima introduces contract management ‘in the cloud’
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